SunControl - DIY Solar Power for Arduino and Raspberry Pi Projects
Ever wanted to build your own Solar Powered Raspberry Pi or Arduino project? You CAN build your own solar powered projects. We have combined three popular boards for solar systems into one inexpensive package.
We combined the USB PowerControl, SunAirPlus and the SwitchDoc Labs Watchdog Timer into one board. We removed a couple of features that most users weren't using (and can be done by inexpensive other boards), specifically the space for the servo chip and the second A/D converter. We found that most customers were using timing to do sun tracking rather than optical tracking. Makes sense!
SunControl is customizable with your software and hardware. Note that the battery and solar panel plugs on SunControl are of type JST-PH 2 pin.
When using the SunControl board, you need to look at the VOC (Voltage Open Circuit) of any other solar panel you have. If it is above 6V, you need to add in a 10W 5.6V Zener diode across the solar panels to protect your SunControl board and system. Connect the "+" end of the diode to the "+" side of the solar panel (or the line from the solar panel to the SunControl Board) and the "-" side to the negative ("-") side of the panel. This will get hot, so let it hang free in the air.
Unfortunately, you can’t just put 10 1W 5.6V Zener diodes in parallel. They aren’t identical and the one that is slightly lower will take all the current. You can, however, stack them in series to acquire the appropriate voltage and power dissipation. Such as stacking 2 5W 2.8V Zener diodes.
You can find such a Zener diode here.
SunControl Allows you to:
- Use Solar Power to Charge and Run Your small Computers
- Measure and Monitor the Performance of your system.
- Understand what is happening in real time with your Solar Panels, batteries and computers!
- Turn your Raspberry Pi / Arduino on and off to avoid brownouts and SD Card damage
- Use the onboard Hardware WatchDog timer to dramatically improve your reliability of the your project
Now Available - Protect your LiPo battery from cold and hot charging by adding a NTC Thermistor to SunControl
NTC Thermistor 10K ohm 1% B3950 L75mm Wired + 10K Ohm Metal Film Resistor (0450-NTCTHERM-DSBT)
Check out this Article on the temperature control.
Grove Connectors make it easy to hook up!
- Combines Three Boards (SunAirPlus, USB PowerControl and WatchDog Timer)
- Easy to Use! No Soldering
- Solar Power Your System
- Charge your Batteries
- Control Your Computer Power
- Gather Important Data
- Improve Your Reliability
- Qi Wireless Charging Too!
The major features of the SunControl board are:
- Uses 6V Solar Cells
- Use 3.7V LiPo Cells for batteries
- Built-In USB Port Power Control using Computer GPIO Control or Battery Sensing
- Has LiPo to 5V voltage boost built in
- Directly powers Raspberry Pi / Arduino
- Works Raspberry Pi (3.3V) GPIO and Arduino (5.0V) GPIO
- Built-in data gathering chips for system currents /voltages
- Charges iPhones and other phones or devices
- Approximates an MPPT (Maximum Power Point Tracking) charging system
- Comes with Grove connectors
A Few Technical Specifications
- 1500 mA from Solar Panels (Max, self regulating)
- 1000mA max instantaneous charge to LiPo Battery
- 1000mA supply to 5V USB Connector
- USB Hysterisis: Battery 3.7V turn on, 3.3 turn off (this prevents what is called called hammering - power turns on, computer uses power, battery voltage drops and power turns off. Battery recovers, turns on power, computer uses power, battery voltage goes down, shutting off power - rinse and repeat)
- 3 Channel INA3221 based I2C Current Measurement - 12 bit, 3000 samples/second 0.8 mA resolution
Even Qi Wireless Charging Works with SunControl
We hooked up a Qi Wireless charger to SunControl and got great results right off the bat. Think of the applications for robots!
- Using the SunControl WatchDog Timer (coming soon)
- Using SunControl in a Raspberry Pi Solar Powered System (coming soon)
- Using SunControl in an Arduino Solar Powered System (coming soon)
- Using SunControl in an ESP8266 Solar Powered System (coming soon)
What are Grove Connectors?
Check out this Grove Connector tutorial.
RasPiConnect / ArduinoConnect Control Panel
The RasPiConnect/ArduinoConnect control panel for SunAirPlus / SunControl is shown below.